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Thursday, June 1, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 54



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Luna’s luck in her pursuit of Lonnie Hendrix suddenly took a huge turn for the better. And just in the nick of time—for the past twenty-four hours, it took all her willpower not to snap at the men in the bars and flash her Secret Service badge around, intimidating them into telling her what she needed to know. She really wasn’t cut out for this subtle undercover work, didn’t have the patience for it. Maybe you simply couldn’t teach an old dog new tricks.
About midnight, she wandered into her fourth gay bar of the evening, a small leather bar in Sandy Springs, which was not far from Alpharetta. Luna made a half-assed attempt to be Carl/a and put on the long face of the jilted lover.
She went to the bar and ordered a shot of bourbon, straight-up. She’d only had soft drinks tonight until now—if she didn’t get a lead here, she was heading back to the hotel and mentally regrouping.
The men who were nearest to her went after her like sharks, two from the left-hand side and one from the right.
“Buy you that drink, babe?” a bearded man in a leather vest said, before the bartender even had a chance to finish making it.
Luna glanced over at him. He looked a little surprised when he saw her makeup.
“Yeah, sure, why not,” she muttered.
He gave the other two men who had raced over a triumphant stare, and they both wandered off, looking for other prey.
When the bartender set her drink in front of her, the man asked her, “What is that—bourbon?”
Luna nodded.
“Make that two, Danny,” he said.
Luna sipped her drink, looking straight ahead at the rows of bottles on the back of the bar. She could feel the bearded man checking her out, his gaze roving over her body in a rather overt way. He did not sit down.
“You new here? I ain’t never seen you before.”
“Just passing through. Looking for an old friend of mine.”
“Old friend.” The man chuckled. “You mean fuck buddy, right?”
“I wouldn’t put it that way,” Luna said, gritting her teeth. She finally turned and looked straight at the man’s face.
“Name’s Burt,” he said, but his smile faded a little when he saw her make-up job. He casually leaned against the bar and offered his hand. He seemed a little shy now, or maybe just quieted by Luna’s irritable demeanor.
“Carl,” Luna said, giving his hand a shake—her hand was as big as his. “Used to be Carla.”
“Oh.” He brightened a little, looking Luna over. “Tranny, huh?”
“Yeah. Not sure it was such a great idea, to be honest.”
He nodded as if he understood.
“The guy that wanted me to do it dumped me. I was in love with him and...” She was moving too fast this time, she knew, but she didn’t care, she had reached the point where she’d lost all her patience. She reached into her coat, pulled out her wallet, and showed her the picture of Lonnie Hendrix.
Burt looked at the photo and frowned. “Lawrence Kavanaugh? Are you kidding me?”
“No.” Luna hadn’t expected him, or anyone, to recognize Hendrix. “Why?”
The bartender brought Burt’s drink, and he took a sip, looking guardedly at Luna’s face. “Well, I hope I don’t hurt your feelings, honey, but I hate that bastard.”
Luna’s heart started to pound. She tried to control her excitement, telling herself he was probably just going to say he’d been dumped by Lawrence Kavanaugh, too. “Why’s that?”
“That dickhead turned against everything I believe in. Damn traitor!”
“What do you mean?”
“He turned on us.”
“Us?”
“A straight cousin of mine invited me to a so-called barbeque party a couple of years ago. When I got there I found out it was a goddam political fundraiser for Steve friggin’ Ezell, can you believe that? I turned right around and left.”
“I don’t blame you,” Luna said.
“And you know whose house it was? Lawrence Kavanaugh’s!”
Luna maintained a neutral expression, controlling herself. “You don’t say.”
“Yeah, I couldn’t believe it. He turned his back on the movement and became a fan of that Nazi storm trooper Steve Ezell. He must have gone completely off the deep end.” Burt paused and sipped his drink. “Lawrence always seemed a little off to me, anyway. I guess it wasn’t such a surprise, to be honest.”
Luna was so agitated she could hardly sit still on the bar stool. She was close now, really close.
“You say this barbecue was at Lawrence’s house?”
“Not a house, a trailer, out in the country. Up near Gainesville.”
“You don’t remember exactly where it was, I guess...”
“Well, yeah I do, it’s near my cousin’s house. He owns a strawberry farm up there.” Burt frowned at her. “Why are you so interested?”
She quickly put the forlorn expression back on her face. “I just want to talk to him, that’s all. I told you, I was really into him.”
Burt looked her up and down again. “And what’s in it for me?”
“Well...how about a hundred bucks?”
Now Burt looked suspicious, and a little scared. He put a few inches of space between them, then picked up his glass and finished off his drink. His features were pinched now—she could almost see alarm bells flashing in his mind. He wanted to get away from her but didn’t want to be rude. He must have sensed that something wasn’t right about her, that maybe she was a cop.
“Don’t panic, Burt,” Luna said, changing her tone. In a split second she decided to take a chance on him. Making sure the bartender was occupied, she reached into her suit pocket and discreetly pulled out her badge. “I’m a federal agent,” she whispered.
“Oh, shit,” Burt said under his breath. He glanced around the bar self-consciously as if he wanted to flee.
“Don’t panic,” Luna repeated. “I’m not here for you, you’ve done nothing wrong.” She leaned closer to him and spoke in a conspiratorial tone, knowing that many people got a thrill out of being taken into confidence by a big shot federal agent. “I’m trying to track down Lawrence Kavanaugh as part of a major international case that I’m investigating. I can go as high as two hundred bucks for information that will lead to his whereabouts.”
Burt glanced around to see if anyone was watching, but nobody was paying them any attention.
Luna pulled two one hundred dollar bills out of her back pocket that she’d been carrying around for exactly this purpose and palmed them on the bar so he could see them. “If you can show me the trailer where that barbecue was held, you’ll be helping the cause, believe me. Lawrence Kavanaugh is a nasty piece of work—he’s better off behind bars.”

Chapter 64

Dmitry’s flight touched down at two-twenty in the afternoon, Santorini Island time.
He picked up the Chevy Suburban that Luna had reserved for him, delighted to have such an impressive vehicle to drive—it was just like the ones he saw on TV that were used to protect the President of the United States.
Using the built-in navigator, he began driving west, towards the village of Mesaria, where he had to do some shopping to prepare for tomorrow’s operation. Sitting in the seat beside him was a disposable phone he’d bought at the airport, according to Janet’s email instructions, and still in the package.
As he drove along the winding road towards the village, he caught glimpses of the piercing blue Aegean Sea in the distance, the sky above a cloudless azure. Even with the heavily-tinted windows of the SUV, the sun was so intense he had to put on his sunglasses to avoid squinting. He could scarcely believe it was January. When he’d left Moscow early this morning, the city was being battered by a raging snowstorm, the temperature far, far below freezing.
He rolled both windows halfway down as he entered the village, letting the warm air buffet through the vehicle, the exotic smell of wildflowers mixed with eucalyptus filling the interior. He passed a few aging Greek people who were lazily walking alongside of the road—they were bundled up as if it was winter! Well, for them, he supposed it was winter. As he rounded another turn, he imagined how hot it must be here in summer.
He found himself unable to fathom how Greece could have such a terrible economy, especially these beautiful islands. Maybe it was simply a marketing problem. It seemed to him that tourists would flock here by the millions from Russia during the winter months if they knew how warm and relaxing it was.
He parked in what seemed to be Mesaria’s central square and wandered around the narrow, sunbaked streets until he found a little supermarket. Pulling out a piece of paper, he scanned the shelves until he found the items he needed for the operation with Janet—a large bottle of corn syrup, and three small bottles of food coloring—red, blue, and yellow.
He also bought a few snacks to eat, afraid that the hotel food would be too fancy for his tastes. He had used the spare space in his suitcase to pack some vobla, dried, salted perch that he loved to eat. He had caught them ice fishing on the Moscow River and cured them himself. He even brought an old copy of the Kommersant newspaper to wrap them in before he ate them—for some reason, unless they were wrapped in newspaper, they just didn’t taste the same.
When he finished his shopping at the supermarket, he went across the street to a pharmacy. There, he bought a bottle of multivitamins that had the largest-sized capsules he could find, and an eyedropper, also needed to prepare for the operation.

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